Al Kindi & Sheikh Habboush CD "Aleppian Sufi Trance"
- March / April 2004
current performances are characterised by a deep sence of focused devotion,
notably from Sheikh Habboush, whose voice has an appropriateblend of
divine finesseand rich earthiness. Al Kindi's director, Julien Jalal
Eddine Weiss, has always gathered around him the most revered musicians
in Aleppo, a city noted for its musical traditions. And here the recorded
sound of their instruments - percussion, oud (lute), ney (flute), and
qanun (zither) - is sublime, and more refined than on their previous
discs (...) All in all, a release worthy of the hi-fis and coffee tables
of our most discerning readers...
Al Kindi & Sheikh Habboush CD "Aleppian
The Daily Telegraph - March 2004
The Syrian city of Aleppo is a hotbed of Islamic mystical
activity of varying degrees of strangeness - piercing with knives and
skewers and walking over hot coals, as well as the more regulation ecstatic
trances. Yet, while this sort of colourful religiosity certainly arouses
curiosity, do recordings of abstruse ceremonies - of which there are
a great many on the market - make for satisfying, or indeed interesting,
The answer in the case of this sufi trance session is a resounding yes
on both counts. While the singing is exactly what you'd hear if you
dropped in at Sheikh Habboush's meeting place in Aleppo, the musical
backing is provided by a group of Syria's finest instrumental virtuosi.
Hollow flute notes waver and zithers jangle ominously beneath fervent
breath-heavy chanting and the Sheikh's impassioned sung narrations.
It has all been carefully recorded in a Paris studio, yet the sense
of devotion is real enough. The Ensemble Al Kindi's recordings add up
to a magnificent survey of Arab classical and devotional music, and
this is both the most austere and the most intense to date.
Arabies Trends - England/Middle East - February 2001
Today's Whirling Dervishes are a living link to a 13th- century
tradition of mystical music and dance
Sheikh Hamza represents the modern face of a 400year old Syrian musical
tradition and his pure, bass voice underpins Al-Kindi's performances.
Hamza is a highly respected figure whose performances to mark the main
Islamic festivals are regurlarly televised in Syria.
On stage Weiss looks positevely monastic, clad entirely in black -in
contrast to the musicians brightly colored satin robes - his silver
hair austerely cropped, bent over his instrumtn with an air of detaced
self-assurance. Sheikh Hamza is the dominant presence with a rich voice
that has earned himself international acclaim.
The ceremony comprises poetry, music and whirling into a trance like
state that releases the soul from it's earthly ties to communicate with
God in a performance that is both relaxing and upliffting.
As the music build to a crescendo, the dervishes begins to twirl wildly,
thier huge white woolen skirts, fanning out around them, their faces
lifted skyward, looking strangely serene as they seek connection with
the divine. As the dervishes almost vanish into a blur of whirling skirts,
Jalaleddine Weiss abseorbed in the intricate strings of his qanun, permits
himself a brief smile.
troupe brings tradition back to Baalbeck
The Daily Star - Lebanon - August 21, 2000
Masters of oriental music bring a close to this year's festival
An evening of religious and secular music by the Ensemble Al-Kindî
entranced and invigorated audience members to mark the last performance
of this year's Baalbeck Festival.
Sitting amongst a lavishly decorated stage, draped in oriental rugs,
the ensemble played two sets for a total of two and a half hour. Watching
the rigid, technical expertise of French-born Julien Weiss on the qanoun
contributed to the trance-like atmosphere even more so than the chanting
of the vocalists (
Weiss demonstrated he is the ensemble's leader not only in name as his
performance on the qanoun established the pace and direction of most
Sarmini demonstrated why he's considered by many to be one of the most
talented singers in Syria.
Ensemble's divine intervention
Cyberia - Lebanon - August 20th, 2000
Throughout the evening, the sacred and the earthly blended in an
inspired and inspiring way, the musical arrangements wrapped round the
voices like a silk abaya.
They sat on a madd, adorned with carpets, some in fez, all with decorum,
an intimate presence in the temple of Bacchus. They filled the silence
without disturbing it.
Review - Sheikh Hamza
Shakkur Al-Kindi Ensemble - The Whirling Dervishes of Damascus Songlines
- United Kingdom - Winter 2000
The music of these CD's is of the first order. Sheikh Hamza Shakkur
is one of the finest liturgical singers in the near East - a man of
towering artistic and physical presence with a commanding baritone voice.
The Al-Kindi ensemble's performances on traditional instruments are
sparse and understated, but perfectly judged. You might expect the music
which accompanies dervish whirling to be either wild or trancey : it
is neither ; whilst obviously deeply spiritual, the overall effect is
very poised and measured.
Like its predecessor, The Aleppian Music Room, also on Chant du Monde,
this is a lavishly presented coffe-table album, with beautiful illustrations
which will do as much to entice tourism to Damascus as a stack of colour-supplement
music in its purest form
The Advertiser - Australia - 11/03/2000
The artistic director of the Ensemble Al-Kindi J.J.Weiss is a man
with a mission - to preserve, promote and extend the great tradition
of Arab music and defend it from the encroachment of contemporary Western
influence. His intense devotion to this task has been successful to
the point of bringing his ensemble to international repute. (
The ensemble is wonderfully relaxed on stage, with the members encouraging
and complementing one another freely during the performance, which eventually
led to audience to show its appreciation more freely.(
) It is
clear that this ensemble merited the sustained and enthusiastic acclamation
which it received.
of Rare Talent
Town Hall, Sufy Liturgy from the Great Ummayad Mosque
Huddersfield Daily Examiner - United Kingdom - November 27th, 2000
The evening offered some rare talent experiences. The lead singer, Sheikh
Hamza Shakkour, displayed impressive control of his unusual vocal timbre
; no less commanding were the virtuoso players of the oriental zither,
Arab lute and reed flute, especially in their brilliantly improved cadenzas.
- World CDs - Sheikh Hamza Shakur
and the Ensemble Al-Kindi
Daily Telegraph - May 06th, 2000
Sheikh Hamza Shakkur has a deep, magnificently rounded voice, whose
sublime tones, could do for Islamic liturgical music what Hildegarde
von Bingen did for Gregorian chants.
Choirmaster of Damascus's Ummayad Mosque, he is keeper of an ancient
vocal tradition unique to this holiest of Islamic sites. It is captured
on this two-CD set with a sense of awe and mystery so palpable you can
practically see the Sheikh's voice drifting through the building's majestic
Julien Jalal Eddine Weiss, a French adept of Arab claasical music has
added understated, yet intricate arrangements, employing the rhythms
of the Whirling Dervishes.(
The rythms are grave and serene, the choruses stirring and the solo
improvisations of lute, ney flute and Weiss's own qanun zither exquisitely
beautiful. When the elements combine, the chorus and instruments answering
the Sheikh's magisterial yearning, the effect is magical.
Review - The Aleppian Music Room
Songlines - Spring 1999
This strikingly presented two-disc set celebrates the intimate
chamber that was traditionnally performed in Alleppo's cultured grand
The Al-Kindi's attempt to re-create the music of a bygone era represents
something of a new departure in Arabic music - this is early music of
sorts, and it is propably significant that a European Julien Jalal Essine
Weiss is behind the venture.(
The interplay between the two singers is a delight, each inspiring the
other to greater feats of vocal dexterity. (
are among Syria's finest, and their sparse, poised delivery is the perfect
foil to the sung poetry.
A true coffee-table CD, lavishly illustrated and with very informative
booklet-notes :a fitting tribute to a fascinating city "
on Wings - The Whirling Dervishes
CD Review - Dutch magazine (translation)
This is one of those recordings taht will convince you that a CD
can't hold sufficient information by far. One should actually be able
to experience the entire cycle without interruption. If you would only
create time for it, take care not to be disturbed by anything. The music
will do the rest. It will lift you up and guide you along various levels
In this music they create a grandeur and an expanse, that makes you
linger in it for some hours without noticing the passage of time. Everything
is transparent. You feel as if you could look way beyond the horizon.
This music lends the listener wings.
René van Peer